Diary Entries in English

Recent diary entries

Please remove these Profile Spammers

Posted by alexkemp on 24 May 2017 in English (English)

Please remove these Profile spammers (Other nearby users shown in my Profile page).

Info on Profile Spammers

If you have access to their email address & IP you can signup at SFS & report them on to the DB, which will then prevent them from spamming any other forum/blog that makes use of SFS.

felineescorts (removed - thank you) (spam for escorts):–
Signed up:– 10 April, 2017
Edits:– 0
Traces:– 0
Diary:– 0

bohemiagirkl (removed - thank you) (spam for escorts):–
Signed up:– 13 March, 2014
Edits:– 0
Traces:– 0
Diary:– 0

debbie bryan (spam for a shop; no link, but is still spamming):–
Signed up:– 25 March, 2009
Edits:– 0
Traces:– 0
Diary:– 0

Steveford11 (removed - thank you) (pharmaceutical spam):–
Signed up:– 11 April, 2014
Edits:– 0
Traces:– 0
Diary:– 0

RDArchitects (spam for architects practice; no link, but is still spamming):–
Signed up:– 12 October, 2012
Edits:– 0
Traces:– 0
Diary:– 0

This is 5 of 30 users, suggesting that 16.7% (1 in every 6) of users sign up purely for the purpose of spamming OSM. After an analysis of those 30 users shown on my Profile, I found that 80% made no or very little contribution (3 or less edits) to OSM; this seems to be the classic 20%/80% split, and makes it very difficult to understand why all these redundant users should be retained.

GSoC Diary: Start of Community Bonding

Posted by n42k on 22 May 2017 in English (English)

Hi! I’m Pedro Amaro, an undergraduate student from Portugal. Currently, I’m studying Informatics and Computing Engineering at FEUP (Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto). I will be working on a project for the OSM community for Google Summer of Code 2017. I took a special interest in OSM for my GSoC proposal, as I had used it before multiple times, mostly to know my bearings and also in the FlightGear flight simulator.

One of the most interesting suggested projects, that mixed some of my interests, including 3D graphics and web applications, was the implementation of a 3D Model Repository. This project consists of implementing a repository for 3D models, where users can upload freely licensed models and their metadata to it, so that 3D visualizers can use this data to render beautiful graphics for buildings (such as the Eiffel Tower) or smaller features such as trees. After a lot of back and forth with the project proposal with Tordanik, I submitted it, and around a month later, was accepted.

In my proposal, I had suggested using OpenLayers as the API for drawing maps in the repository, and having the live 3D preview of models be optional. Upon further discussion, we decided to change the API to Leaflet and start working on the preview early in the summer, by June.

To explore both ideas, I built a small demonstration of each, to get acquainted with the tools I will be using, namely Leaflet and Three.js.

Region around the Eiffel Tower, with a popup with a link to the model Leaflet API demo

Interactive Three.js model of the Eiffel Tower Three.js OpenCOLLADA demo

The Eiffel Tower model was made in Sketch Up by joe89v, and exported as an OpenCOLLADA model. The model can be found here.

OpenStreetMap Carto release v3.3.1

Posted by Math1985 on 22 May 2017 in English (English)

Today, v3.3.1 of the openstreetmap-carto stylesheet (the default stylesheet on has been released.

This version includes a single change: * Fix a regression in intermittent waterways

For a full list of commits, see

As always, we welcome any bug reports at

Representing San Francisco City Hall in simple 3D building

Posted by Chetan_Gowda on 22 May 2017 in English (English)

Last weekend, I tried modelling San Francisco City Hall in S3DB. The public building has 100 years of glorious history. The diameter of the central dome is around 34 m and total height of the building is 93 m. From Wikipedia

The co-ordinates of the building is 37.77910°N/122.41937°W. Edited this model first through OSM Sandbox and copied all the geometries and tags to main OSM database. I used JOSM current version and Kendzi3D plugin to visualise locally.

Before Simple 3D tags

before_in_kendzi Visualised in JOSM Kendzi3D plugin

After adding Simple 3D tags

Photo credits: At Flickr by Thomas Hawk




1. F4Map f4map Click here for demo

2. OSMBuildings osmbuildings Click here for demo

I'd love to see many places in OpenStreetMap in 3D. If you have any questions, ping me @chtnha on twitter or OSM message.

Up The Creek

Posted by alexkemp on 22 May 2017 in English (English)

A small snippet from my recent survey off Mapperley Plains, Notts.:–

The householder was a retired chap & explained that, when he & his wife got married & bought a house, some so-called friends had said that the two of them were now “Up the creek” (splendid friends, huh?). So, in response, they decided to give their new home a name:–

the creek

Location: Arnold and Carlton, Gedling, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Finding Wilson Boulevard

Posted by Minh Nguyen on 22 May 2017 in English (English)

(This post is cross-posted from a recent post on my blog and adapted for an audience already familiar with OpenStreetMap.)

An overflowing bánh mì, a tray of tender bánh da lợn, a can of soybean milk: my treat after every monthly trip to the little Vietnamese grocery across town. Mekong Market was my Sunday Bible school of Vietnamese culture in a childhood as distant from Asia as one could imagine, in Cincinnati. Snacks, sauces, and canned foods defying translation lined the shelves; in the refrigerator, a variety of mystery meats wrapped in aluminum foil each bore the same place of origin: Chicago.

One Labor Day, my family made a trip up to Chicago to finally see the bustling Vietnamese community whose clearance we had happily bought for years. We made a lot of road trips back then, often just spur-of-the-moment driving through the peaceful countryside. But since we were headed five hours away to an unfamiliar city, we needed to plan ahead. As the resident map enthusiast, I was to find directions to the Vietnamese supermarket in Chicago using our new Internet connection. We’d enjoy some phở for lunch and bring back enough fresh ingredients to avoid Mekong Market for a little while.

A search for “Vietnamese markets in Chicago” on AltaVista turned up an article from The Washingtonian describing a cluster of supermarkets, phở restaurants, and bakeries on Wilson Boulevard. I pasted the street address into MapQuest, specified “Chicago” and “Illinois” to make sure I got the right “Wilson”, and printed out the directions.

Bánh mì thịt nguội
A Vietnamese cold cuts sandwich (bánh mì thịt nguội).

Five hours later, we arrived in Chicago and crawled up and down Wilson Avenue. If a Vietnamese supermarket or two were to be found along this street, it couldn’t have fit very easily inside any of the modest townhouses that lined the street from end to end without interruption. I noticed, too, that the entire length of the street was numbered in the 8000 range, as opposed to the 6700 block on which this supermarket supposedly stood. My father pulled the car aside and called the supermarket’s phone number on his cell phone. I could understand just enough Vietnamese to make out the voice on the other end: “I’m in Northern Virginia – what in the world do you want me to do for you?”

As my father held his tongue – Grandma was in the back seat – we wandered aimlessly around that part of town until we happened to spot some Vietnamese signage. There, just a few minutes away from Wilson Avenue, were the supermarket, phở restaurant, and bakery we had been hoping for, by sheer luck.

In the years since, I moved to San José, California, home to one of the largest populations of Vietnamese Americans in the country. Bánh mì shops here are as commonplace as cafés. In fact, the only reason I ever notice them is that I also became immersed in OSM. I found a niche mapping “flyover country” and made it my mission to improve coverage of communities underserved by commercial map vendors, among them ethnic enclaves in San José, Orange County, and elsewhere.

Last month, I happened to be in Washington, D.C., visiting my employer Mapbox at the new office there. On a lark, I decided to spend Sunday afternoon visiting Wilson Boulevard for real. It had been almost eighteen years since my last attempt, but despite having since moved to a city with a large Vietnamese population and plenty of Vietnamese food, I figured seeing this street in person would give me some closure. Fortunately, the same Metro line that took me almost to the airport also took me almost to Eden Center, the Vietnamese shopping center that had teased me back in grade school.

Parking aisles
No Vietnamese shopping center would be complete without a kitschy gate.

I had always imagined Eden Center to be more of a bazaar than a strip mall. Nonetheless, it has almost everything you’d expect from a center of Vietnamese social life: a dearth of parking, a man singing karaoke to an impromptu crowd out front, a father treating his daughters to the kumquats that hang from a decorative tree nearby. On the other hand, there are no elderly men playing cờ tướng in front of the shops, as one often finds in California. (One wall bears an enormous warning against gambling and suggests area casinos as alternatives.)

Like similar centers in Orange County, Eden Center is steeped in war history. Each aisle in the parking lot bears the name of a South Vietnamese general.

Parking aisles
At the intersection of Nguyễn Khoa Nam and Trần Văn Bá “Avenues”.

The South Vietnamese flag flies proudly beside the American flag. As it was the week before the anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, a banner spanning the two flagpoles honored South Vietnamese war heroes.

South Vietnamese heroes banner
The banner reads, “With Gratitude We Revere the Martyred National Heroes of the Republic of Vietnam”.

I thoroughly field-surveyed Eden Center, noting the restaurants, jewelers, beauty salons, travel agencies, and karaoke bars tucked away in the center’s “mini-malls”. Before leaving, I bought a bánh mì, a piping hot tray of bánh da lợn, and a can of soybean milk for the road.

The whole reason I got involved with “citizen mapping” is that proprietary map sources fall so short when it comes to places beyond San Francisco, beyond the central business districts, beyond the tourist traps.

Eden Center on Apple Maps
Apple Maps includes only a few shops, but they’re all in the wrong places and some are no longer open.

Eden Center on Google Maps
With the same indoor mapping style it applies to every mall, Google Maps makes it look like it has spectacular coverage of Eden Center. But it’s just walls: most of the shops are still in the wrong location and some have closed.

Eden Center on Baidu Maps
I found it surprising that Baidu Maps has coverage of this area on par with Apple Maps, but it too has misplaced and outdated points of interest.

OSM didn’t have a lot of detail about Eden Center until I ventured there last month, but now it’s complete, accurate, and up-to-date. Even the parking aisles are named. It’s looking a lot better than the competition.

Eden Center on OSM, before and after
After my visit to Eden Center, OSM gained so much detail in the area that there isn’t enough room to display most of the points of interest with proper icons and labels. (Left: before; right: after)

Eden mini-malls on OSM, before and after
(Top: before; bottom: after)

Eden Mini Mall on OSM, full detail
One of the advantages of a human-curated map database is an at-times quirky attention to detail. The abundance of diacritical marks in Vietnamese are essential to comprehension, so this Vietnamese-American community will find it helpful that OSM includes the diacritics, even though this shopping center is located in a predominantly English-speaking city. Maybe someday the highway=corridor ways will be useful for pedestrian routing, too.

OSM may have a long way to go before it can even dream of breaking people’s Google habits. I’m under no illusions about how poorly it scales to visit each site in person via public transportation. But for now, I’m just happy to have finally made it to Wilson Boulevard and made it easier for others to do the same – minus the detour.

Location: Spy Hill, Ballston, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, 22205, United States of America

Virgo GIS

Posted by justascii on 21 May 2017 in English (English)

University of Virginia Library has GIS data for buildings in Loudoun county (and lots of others), and the terms of use say the data "is publicly available and can be reused and published without restriction, so I figured I'd start importing it into OSM using JOSM.

This first upload was a residential neighborhood to test the workflow.

Location: East Declaration Court, Purcellville, Loudoun County, Virginia, 20132, United States of America

Mapper of the Month: Marek Kleciak (Poland/Germany)

Posted by escada on 21 May 2017 in English (English)

Marek Kleciak

Who are you?

I'm half German half Polish. I'm living in Bavaria in Germany. I'm a car navigation professional responsible for innovation management. Previously I worked with navigation maps and city modelling. Years before I developed specifications for 3D city models for the German government in Hamburg. Then I started to work for one of the biggest car navigation companies. I made the first trials for 3D data acquisition with laser scanning used now e.g. in Here products. I also taught for 15 years constructive geometry and technical representation techniques at the Technical University in Hamburg. My hobbies are my family, 3D modeling, painting, photography, geography and molecular medicine. I decided to use the polish part of my full name instead of nickname because I believe, I have nothing to hide when I map.

When and how did you discover OpenStreetMap?

I heard about OSM already in 2004 because of my professional work and searching after alternatively map sources for car navigation, but I started participating actively only in 2008.

What do you map? Is there any difference with your early days?

I have probably the same story as a lot of mappers: in the beginning I mapped mostly things from my immediate surroundings, then other areas I know. After two years I decided to do mapping in some badly covered areas in developing countries.

How do you map ?

In the beginning I did some surveys but because of my professional and family duties I am now mostly an armchair mapper. I spent a lot of time improving the accuracy of the map.

Which tools do you use ?

For mapping: I use [JOSM](, Potlatch2, OsmAnd, a digital camera and Field papers. For Q&A I use,, OSM Inspector, and ITO World's map showing the last 90 days of edits.

Demo F4 Example

Demo F4 Example in Warsaw

For 3D modeling: Adobe Photoshop, ArchiCAD, and f4map. JOSM PlugIns: Kendzi3D, Kendzi3d_improved_by_Andrei, Shape Tools, CAD Tools, ContourOverlappingMerge, Tracer, PicLayer, Alignways, areaselector, buildings_tools – those plugins are the most important to me. But I use also the following plugins: DFX import, FastDraw, junctionchecking, Mapillary, measurement, merge-overlap, pdfimport, photoadjust, reverter, roadSigns, splinex, terracer, tracer2, utilsplugin2, walkingpapers.

Where do you map ?

I do mapping around the world. Previously mostly in Poland and Germany, but with time more and more in developing countries like Ruanda and Nepal. After the earthquake in Nepal in 2015 I did my mapping mostly there. The help is still needed.

What is your biggest achievement as mapper?

I have three points. First would be the organization of the Garching Workshop: I suggested there the mapping schema known now as Simple 3D Building. My good friend Kendzi, a very smart guy, developed based on this idea his plugin Kendzi3d. Now we have 3D maps.

Example 3D Building in Kendzi plugin

Example 3D Building in Kendzi plugin

Secondly the lobbying for OSM in Poland and the foundation of the OSM Poland association. As the result the polish mappers got access to the very accurate government aerial images.

Third: Specification of area:highway. Another smart mapper, marimil, has programmed the visualization. Now, we have over 82000 such areas in the map. Why is it so important in my opinion? First: a better look of the map on highest zoom level, secondly: this content can help to develop apps for automated driving.

Visualization of area:highway

Visualization of area:highway on

Why do you map?

I love the idea of open source. I have teached the Kathmandu Living Labs team in Nepal before earthquake. They used this knowledge for production of maps for rescue teams after the earthquake.

What is the most difficult part of mapping ?

I don´t understand this question :-) In my eyes it is wonderful and easy to understand project. Maybe I´m too long in this business.

What are your mapping plans for the near future ?

I wish to improve the OSM map of Nepal. I like this beautiful country and nice, friendly Nepali. Especially mapping of forest areas is in my eyes of special value: Where are forests, there are no people. This knowledge is important for disaster management. And new earthquakes are very likely to happen in Nepal.

Map of Nepal

Map of Nepal in Humanitarian Style

Do you have contact with other mappers ?

Absolutely. Many of them. I know a lot of nice and addicted friends.

Do you use OpenStreetMap yourself ? How ?

I use it for navigation and biking.

Do you do anything else than mapping that is related to OpenStreetMap?

Yes, I try to write some specification for JOSM plugins I miss. Sometimes I find people that realize this ideas, as was the case with e.g. CAD Tools. I´m also working in my free time on the S3DB 2.0 specification. It would be great to have more detailed 3D models. I am also the member of advisory board of I-locate consortium which develops standards for indoor data. I am responsible for OSM content there.

To conclude, is there anything else you want to mention?

Don´t believe everything is already mapped and OSM becomes boring. There is still a lot, a whole lot to do!

Rendering of Muslim cemeteries

Posted by michalfabik on 21 May 2017 in English (English)

While I was fixing a lot of stuff around Sarajevo, it occurred to me that we don't have a way to render Muslim cemeteries - an important landmark of the cityscape there, and in many other parts of the world too, I'm sure. Some big cemeteries are even divided into Christian and Muslim sections.
Adapting one the existing rendering patterns was easy enough:
landuse=cemetery + religion=muslim
So, how does one officially propose a new way to render an existing feature?

Fun with Google Tilt on Satellite Photos

Posted by alexkemp on 20 May 2017 in English (English)

We cannot (unfortunately) use Google Satellite to directly help us sketch buildings. I've spent the past 14 months using Bing (and now a week occasionally using DigitalGlobe) under JOSM to draw the outline of houses throughout Nottingham NG3/NG4. In my neck of the woods, DigitalGlobe is much newer, whilst Bing is less blurry, but Google normally knocks them both into a cocked hat, being both very new & as sharp as a pin (wistful sigh).

SomeoneElse showed me Google-3D — on a laptop/desktop hold down the <Ctrl> key whilst you use the mouse to move the satellite view & you will get 3D rather than 2D (I believe that this is accomplished using the 45° Imagery). I now use this imagery to re-walk the path that I took on my earlier survey + check the backs, etc. of the houses for all the bits that I could not see from the street when making the original survey.

In the past various MPGs have reacted with fury to me taking photographs in their vicinity (and have even tried to cause me serious injury), and there is a link between the location of these characters & missing sections of StreetView. I also know from many, many conversations just how common the irritation/anger is over Google's street photography amongst Nottingham householders. This next bit will possibly cause their heads to explode.

In ordinary circumstances, pressing the + key on the Google Satellite view will eventually switch from overhead-satellite to StreetView (if it exists), and that change occurs in spite of the 2D/3D setting. I've discovered how to get closer without switching. Astonishingly close.

My latest survey has been within Regency Heights north of Gedling Country Park. On a handful of occasions, whilst flying around those streets using Google Satellite view just above the switchover level, I've done something that has caused my 3D view to expand enormously. The 45° Imagery page speaks of “high-resolution imagery ... for certain locations”. I do not know how to switch up using the mouse, but this is how to do it via the URL.

The following links are all of Thurlestone Drive, Mapperley, and steadily get closer. Notice that the only parameter changing is the a (amplitude?). I'm also pretty sure that the t parameter is the angle:–,-1.0999802,253a,35y,144.57h,45t/data=!3m1!1e3,-1.0999802,127a,35y,144.57h,45t/data=!3m1!1e3,-1.0999802,61a,35y,144.57h,45t/data=!3m1!1e3,-1.0999802,51a,35y,144.57h,45t/data=!3m1!1e3,-1.0999802,47a,35y,144.57h,45t/data=!3m1!1e3,-1.0999802,38a,35y,144.57h,45t/data=!3m1!1e3,-1.0999802,33a,35y,144.57h,45t/data=!3m1!1e3

I thought at first that there may be ‘magic’ values for a, but in fact it is continuously adjustable. However, it is possible to choose certain combos (of all parameters) where the result is a black image (no such tile?) or the sky. I think that you will agree that the closest results are astonishing.

Location: Arnold and Carlton, Gedling, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Routing with OSRM

Posted by OpenBrian on 19 May 2017 in English (English)

Setting up OSRM is very easy because it's using Docker. Here are the steps to take to set up your own router. You can run this locally or on a server. To see this in action check out

OSRM on MappingDC

  1. Install Docker on your machine according to instructions for your operating system.
  2. Download a PBF file for your city from the Mapzen Metro Extracts ( If there is none, sign up and request a new one be built.
  3. Run the backend docker commands from here This takes about 30 minutes as it precomputes some data.
  4. Run the frontend docker commands from here Start the front end with the -e option that specifies the URL to your backend, e.g. http://myhost/osrm-router/
  5. Open ports on your firewall, or set up a proxy in Apache like this:

    # Frontend
    ProxyPass /osrm
    ProxyPassReverse /osrm
    # Backend
    ProxyPass /osrm-router/
    ProxyPassReverse /osrm-router/
  6. Visit http://myhost/osrm-router/

Location: Mount Vernon, Alexandria, Alexandria City, Virginia, 22305, United States of America

Computing for the future of the planet: the digital commons

Posted by mcld on 19 May 2017 in English (English)

Cross posted from

On Wednesday we had a "flagship seminar" from Prof Andy Hopper on Computing for the future of the planet. How can computing help in the quest for sustainability of the planet and humanity?

Lots of food for thought in the talk. I was surprised to come out with a completely different take-home message than I'd expected - and a different take-home message than I think the speaker had in mind too. I'll come back to that in a second.

Some of the themes he discussed:

  • Green computing. This is pretty familiar: how can computing be less wasteful? Low-energy systems, improving the efficiency of computer chips, that kind of thing. A good recent example is how DeepMind used machine learning to reduce the cooling requirements of a Google data centre by 40%. 40% reductions are really rare. Hopper also have a nice example of "free lunch" computing - the idea is that energy is going unused somewhere out there in the world (a remote patch of the sea, for example) so if you stick a renewable energy generator and a server farm there, you essentially get your computation done at no resource cost.
  • Computing for green, i.e. using computation to help us do things in a more sustainable way. Hopper gave a slightly odd example of high-tech monitoring that improved efficiency of manufacturing in a car factory; not very clear to me that this is a particularly generalisable example. How about this much better example? Open source geospatial maps and cheap new tools improve farming in Africa. "Aerial drones, crowds of folks gathering soil samples and new analysis techniques combine as pieces in digital maps that improve crop yields on African farms. The Africa Soil Information Service is a mapping effort halfway through its 15-year timeline. Its goal is to publish dynamic digital maps of all of Sub-Saharan Africa at a resolution high enough to serve farmers with small plots. The maps will be dynamic because AfSIS is training people now to continue the work and update the maps." - based on crowdsourced and other data, machine-learning techniques are used to create a complete picture of soil characteristics, and can be used to predict where's good to farm what, what irrigation is needed, etc.

Then Hopper also talked about replacing physical activities by digital activities (e.g. shopping), and this led him on to the topic of the Internet, worldwide sharing of information and so on. He argued (correctly) that a lot of these developments will benefit the low-income countries even though they were essentially made by-and-for richer countries - and also that there's nothing patronising in this: we're not "developing" other countries to be like us, we're just sharing things, and whatever innovations come out of African countries (for example) might have been enabled by (e.g.) the Internet without anyone losing their own self-determination.

Hopper called this "wealth by proxy"... but it doesn't have to be as mystifying as that. It's a well-known idea called the commons.

The name "commons" originates from having a patch of land which was shared by all villagers, and that makes it a perfect term for what we're considering now. In the digital world the idea was taken up by the free software movement and open culture such as Creative Commons licensing. But it's wider than that. In computing, the commons consists of the physical fabric of the Internet, of the public standards that make the World Wide Web and other Internet actually work (http, smtp, tcp/ip), of public domain data generated by governments, of the Linux and Android operating systems, of open web browsers such as Firefox, of open collaborative knowledge-bases like Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap. It consists of projects like the Internet Archive, selflessly preserving digital content and acting as the web's long-term memory. It consists of the GPS global positioning system, invented and maintained (as are many things) by the US military, but now being complemented by Russia's GloNass and the EU's Galileo.

All of those are things you can use at no cost, and which anyone can use as bedrock for some piece of data analysis, some business idea, some piece of art, including a million opportunities for making a positive contribution to sustainability. It's an unbelievable wealth, when you stop to think about it, an amazing collection of achievements.

The surprising take-home lesson for me was: for sustainable computing for the future of the planet, we must protect and extend the digital commons. This is particularly surprising to me because the challenges here are really societal, at least as much as they are computational.

There's more we can add to the commons; and worse, the commons is often under threat of encroachment. Take the Internet and World Wide Web: it's increasingly becoming centralised into the control of a few companies (Facebook, Amazon) which is bad news generally, but also presents a practical systemic risk. This was seen recently when Amazon's AWS service suffered an outage. AWS powers so many of the commercial and non-commercial websites online that this one outage took down a massive chunk of the digital world. As another example, I recently had problems when Google's "ReCAPTCHA" system locked me out for a while - so many websites use ReCAPTCHA to confirm that there's a real human filling in a form, that if ReCAPTCHA decides to give you the cold shoulder then you instantly lose access to a weird random sample of services, some of those which may be important to you.

Another big issue is net neutrality. "Net neutrality is like free speech" and it repeatedly comes under threat.

Those examples are not green-related in themselves, but they illustrate that out of the components of the commons I've listed, the basic connectivity offered by the Internet/WWW is the thing that is, surprisingly, perhaps the flakiest and most in need of defence. Without a thriving and open internet, how do we join the dots of all the other things?

But onto the positive. What more can we add to this commons? Take the African soil-sensing example. Shouldn't the world have a free, public stream of such land use data, for the whole planet? The question, of course, is who would pay for it. That's a social and political question. Here in the UK I can bring the question even further down to the everyday. The UK's official database of addresses (the Postcode Address File) was... ahem... was sold off privately in 2013. This is a core piece of our information infrastructure, and the government - against a lot of advice - decided to sell it as part of privatisation, rather than make it open. Related is the UK Land Registry data (i.e. who owns what parcel of land) which is not published as open data but is stuck behind a pay-wall, all very inconvenient for data analysis, investigative journalism etc.

We need to add this kind of data to the commons so that society can benefit. In green terms, geospatial data is quite clearly raw material for clever green computing of the future, to do good things like land management, intelligent routing, resource allocation, and all kinds of things I can't yet imagine.

As citizens and computerists, what can we do?

  1. We can defend the free and open internet. Defend net neutrality. Support groups like the Mozilla Foundation.
  2. Support open initiatives such as Wikipedia (and the Wikimedia Foundation), OpenStreetMap, and the Internet Archive. Join a local Missing Maps party!
  3. Demand that your government does open data, and properly. It's a win-win - forget the old mindset of "why should we give away data that we've paid for" - open data leads to widespread economic benefits, as is well documented.
  4. Work towards filling the digital commons with ace opportunities for people and for computing. For example satellite sensing, as I've mentioned. And there's going to be lots of drones buzzing around us collecting data in the coming years; let's pool that intelligence and put it to good use.

If we get this right, 20 years from now our society's computing will be green as anything, not just because it's powered by innocent renewable energy but because it can potentially be a massive net benefit - data-mining and inference to help us live well on a light footprint. To do that we need a healthy digital commons which will underpin many of the great innovations that will spring up everywhere.

The Antwerp drinking water fountain scene.

Posted by philippec on 19 May 2017 in English (English)

I revisited Antwerp City and to my surprise drinking water fountains had appeared.
I checked the data from the city and found it to be rather good. Not so in Brussels.

The markers collapse too soon or expand too late for the map to be useful. But the coordinates are very precise. I wished there was a method to copy them in OSM. Anyway thanks to yours truly, OSM is now much better than the official map.

I don't like the new drinking water fountains. They are of concrete and metal with a low and a high faucet. You can only drink from them. The advantage is that they do not necessarily need a gutter.

Strangely there is a blind spot on the map to the south of this fountain.

I do not doubt that most of the Antwerp drinking water fountains will work in the summer. Not so in Brussels. But I cannot set their stateofrepair to OK without revisiting them. That can easily be done in the app "Drinkingwaterfountains". Yes folks, some people map drinking water fountains in the summer without checking if they work.

The Province of Antwerp, or some of its politicians have always been strong advocates for drinking water fountains in their recreational parks and along the main bicycle ways. But the place of those fountains is their best kept secret. "The drinking water company is also involved", they say.

I still have to resolve three notes, and then I am sure hat I have a 95 % accurate picture of the whole province.

Or I could place notes all over the place. No don't worry, I am not that silly. But my three notes might not be visible between all the old and silly notes.

A bicycle "highway" is being built between Antwerp and Brussels. Guess what ? Yes, I checked where a cyclist could have a drink for free.
The best place for someone dying from thirst between Antwerp and Brussels might be a graveyard or a petrol station.

You can see it all on Mapillary.

Location: Sint-Andries, Antwerpen, Antwerp, Flanders, 2000, Belgium

Mapping Taze Zaman

Posted by apm-wa on 18 May 2017 in English (English)

Used Mapillary today for the first time to map the approach road to Taze Zaman, a new suburb of Ashgabat. It gobbled up all the memory of my iPhone 5 very quickly. The interface with ID is very cool and made editing very easy; on the negative side, I'd like an auto mode that doesn't shoot the entire memory wad in only ten minutes. OpenStreetCam is much more memory efficient, though it lacks an interface with ID.

Location: 38.049, 58.297

Bike Paths Around Denver

Posted by killian on 17 May 2017 in English (English)

Making a start

Posted by Chris Jefferies on 17 May 2017 in English (English)

I'm still learning what is possible in OpenStreetMap and just how easy it is to add and edit material. I'd encourage anyone to have a go at this. Every little improvement or addition makes the map more useful and accurate.

Location: Stratton, Cirencester, Cotswold, Gloucestershire, South West England, England, United Kingdom

AAARGH !!! Those Spammers !

Posted by ika-chan! on 17 May 2017 in English (English)

Can someone please do something about the spammers? I am a regular reader of the OpenStreetMap Blog feed, but recently they have been overrun by spammers that abuse the user diary system and go as far as to peddle software cracking (warez).

Extra: Another thing I noticed is that the OpenStreetMap signup page does not have that "I'm not a robot" captcha, which is a far cry from the days you had to figure out nearly-indecipherable words. If there was one, it would significantly reduce automated spammers.

Extra II: But the captcha I refer to helps Google Street View, even though it will be some time before OSM can excel in the street view sector. So what now? Panic?

OSM has failed me

Posted by n76 on 17 May 2017 in English (English)

Actually, failed is too strong a word. Annoyed or disappointed is better.

I am on a vacation in Bilbao which is a lovely city with friendly people, photogenic streets and very good food. But I can't use Osmand or to find streets named in any of the tourist guides of even by the locals including the very nice staff at our hotel.

Why? Because the directions are in always in Spanish/Castilian and a year or so ago the many of the name=* tags for the streets here were edited to remove the Spanish names and have only the Basque names.

I have been consciously observing street signs and they are consistently are in both Basque and Spanish. Usually with Spanish on top. It is my understanding that OSM multilingual tagging calls for having all languages on the signs tagged. I have no issue with replacing the Spanish with Basque on the default name=* tags. But the Spanish names should have been put into name:es=* tags. That would allow visitors like myself a chance at a much better experience.

Imagine being able to find the street given to you by a friendly local who assumes, correctly, that you speak no Basque.

Not that it would have helped much with as I don't see any setting in that app to specify display or search on anything other than the default name=* tag. Osmand does have a setting for specifying the language but I don't know how well it works as the data is not in OSM for it to work with.

So here I am with a wonderful looking OSM based maps with an amazing number of points of interest. And I have apps that can give me detailed directions once I figure out where I want to go. But I am reduced to using Google to find my destination and then I need to compare the street geometry to see where the location is on my OSM based map.

Maybe not a "fail" for OSM, but definitely annoying and disappointing.

New imagery layers, but...

Posted by AkuAnakTimur on 16 May 2017 in English (English)

... apparently my own memory has failed me.

Last September, I have jotted down places to be added into OSM during a (long) bus trip using the Favourite feature in the OsmAnd app. On top of that, OSMTracker for Android was also recording tracks, and I have also taken some photos.

Places near the destination of the bus trip is quite undermapped in OSM. When I reached back home, I found out that neither Bing nor Mapbox layers that has high resolution imagery. Sentinel 2 imagery can be said to be helpful, but to a certain extent. So, I have kept a backup of the Favourite GPX file, who knows, it could be reused in the future.

As DigitalGlobe (DG) has released two layers of imageries recently, I have decided to do remapping again, based on these Favourite GPX files. Many thanks to DG, apparently places across the mentioned bus journey could be (re-)mapped using the Premium (but not the Standard) layer.

However, it seems that I didn't include adequate contexts while jotting things down... oh no, not a good news. I was not able to exactly recall some of these things. Shame.

P.S. cannot thank DigitalGlobe enough for sharing their imagery layers.

Please remove this commentor

Posted by alexkemp on 16 May 2017 in English (English)

Frinz (removed - thank you) was your classic spammer, and in this case a Profile spammer:–

  • Spammer (Oxford Dictionary) (Wikipedia)
  • Profile Spammer:– Someone that places their spam within their forum Profile & then places at least one post within at least one of that forum's boards
    (the purpose of the forum post is to get a legitimate forum link back to the Profile, something that all search-engines (SE's) will follow — ALL spammer activity is intended to game the SE SERPs; any uplift from direct spammer links is simply a bonus)

In this case, Frinz placed his spam within the Personal page for his Profile. His stats are:–

  • Signed up: 07:18 16 May, 2017
  • Edits: 0
  • Traces: 0
  • Diary: 0
  • Comment: 07:19 16 May, 2017: Comment content: “Hi Hello!”

Fairly transparent once you understand the method & motivations.

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